Should you have a public defender represent you?

A lot of people who are charged with serious criminal offenses qualify for the services of the public defender agency. This can be a low or even no-cost option for your criminal defense. For this reason, a lot of people elect to be represented by a public defender rather than seek assistance from a private criminal defense attorney. But before going to trial on your case with a public defender by your side, you need to carefully assess whether one of these attorneys is right for you. After all, your freedom is on the line.

The risks of being represented by a public defender

Although there are a lot of great public defenders out there, there are many who simply don’t live up to the job. Here are some of the weaknesses of a public defender:

  • High caseloads: Public defenders are notorious for having high caseloads. This means that they are overworked and oftentimes underpaid. As a result, these attorneys tend to focus on clearing cases rather than fighting as aggressively as possible for their clients. This also means that they are oftentimes stretched thin, which leads to the next weakness.
  • Lack of attention: Because public defenders have high caseloads, they oftentimes are limited in the amount of time that they can give to each case. This means that your questions might go unanswered, and you could be prevented from taking an active role in your criminal defense. You might be pressured into a plea deal that isn’t right for you, and your attorney might not be as prepared for trial as you would like.
  • Inexperience: Some public defenders have a lifetime of legal experience. But many of them are fresh out of law school. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. However, this lack of experience could leave you with an advocate who is less adept at successfully utilizing case law and the rules of evidence. When your freedom and your future is on the line, there’s simply too much to risk by having an inexperienced advocate on your side.
  • Lack of resources: Many public defenders lack the resources of a private attorney. For example, they may not have the money needed to obtain one or more experts to testify on their behalf. They may even lack the resources to adequately research applicable case law that could speak directly to your case. Most public defenders are also unable to utilize a private investigator to help build your criminal defense.
  • Lack of specialization: Given their large caseloads, most public defenders see a lot of turnover in their cases before they ever go to trial. Therefore, since they oftentimes lack experience, they’re unable to build a specialization in the realm of criminal defense. This can leave you at a distinct disadvantage should your case go to trial.

Choose an attorney that is right for you

We’re not saying that all public defenders are bad attorneys. But when you’re appointed a public defender, you don’t have a say into whom your case is given. Do you want to take that kind of gamble with so much on the line?

If not, then you may want to look into criminal defense representation by a private attorney. These legal teams, like the one at our law firm, are dedicated to building the competent and aggressive legal arguments that are necessary to not only protect accused individuals’ rights, but also maximize their chances of obtaining the best outcome possible under the circumstances. If you want the kind of representation that going to attack as many aspects of the prosecution’s case as possible, then you might want to consider reaching out to a law firm like ours.